The Tourist from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is a record that is not suited for casual listening. A delve into Alec Ounsworth’s psyche, the release requires the listener to sit down and deeply listen, or otherwise get lost in the somewhat alienating synths and downbeat melodies.
Songs such as the opener, ‘The Pilot,’ which is a dreamy tune, can get lost if not given a certain level of attentiveness. It’s an interesting choice for the first track – in one sense, it inspires a sense of contemplation in the listener, but in another it’s very easy to merely hum along to the melody and become distracted by other things in your life.
As ‘The Pilot’ inspires a sense of daydreaming, zoning out before coming on to ‘A Chance to Cure’ would be something of a shock. With sentiments of the bitches Ounsworth knows, it has tinges of bitterness mingled with despair among throbbing guitar lines.
‘Down (Is Where I Want to Be)’ is a somewhat self-indulgent monologue about feeling low, which has the trappings of a modern-day Morrisey writing songs in an Airbnb in Berlin with its synth-tinged beats. It is in ‘Unfolding Above Celibate Moon (Lost Angeles Nursery Rhyme)’ that the listener discovers what may be the driving force behind the album: feeling out of place in celebrity culture. Harmonica solos and electric guitar slides give the listener time to reflect on these sentiments, ultimately inspiring the same melancholy mood that surrounds the album in the listener.
‘Better Off’ is a cheerful tune, full of false sentiments when listened to in the context of the album as whole. Ounsworth repeatedly insists on doing well, while reflecting on the viciousness of a previous relationship now that he has distance from the emotionality of the moment – cleverly, the song is literally distancing Ounsworth through distorted vocals.
‘Fireproof’ is a pithy song, with punctuated lyrics and strong bass beats seemingly about anxious fears and the need for pain in order to grow.
‘Visiting Hours’ finishes off the album with a reflection on what memories mean – in this case, memories are fleeting moments that visit you occasionally, and slow acoustic guitar lines allow the listener to reflect on what their memories mean to them.
Overall, Ounsworth has released a thoughtful and insightful album. Where it may fall down, however, is when his fans simply don’t have the time or attention spans to pay it the diligence it deserves and demands.